This morning, UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen (24-11-1) and PRIDE veteran “The Babyfaced Assassin” Josh Barnett (21-5) both appeared in front of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) to appeal their (unrelated) suspensions due to the presence of banned substances in their pre-fight drug screenings.
In July 2009, Barnett tested positive for the use of steroids for the second time in his professional MMA career, consequently not being allowed to compete against “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-2) at the now defunct promotion Affliction: Trilogy. The event as well as Affliction Entertainment itself was cancelled July 24, 2009 as a direct result. Barnett requested a re-test, and subsequently failed that one, as well.
The heavyweight has been refused a license to fight in the State of California since the incident, and today Barnett came before the CSAC sans lawyer in attempt to have the decision appealed. The commission advised Barnett have a lawyer present during official interrogations, and pushed his hearing back to the regulatory commission’s next meeting.
Barnett told the CSAC before the questioning, “I did not take anabolic steroids.” Commissioner George Dodd said that before Barnett will be issued a license to fight in California, the heavyweight must show evidence of “rehabilitation”, due to the fact that he did not appeal the original ruling last year.
At UFC 117 Chael Sonnen came closer to tarnishing Middleweight Champion “The Spider” Anderson Silva’s (27-4) perfect UFC record than perhaps any of the Brazilian’s previous opponents. After taking a beating for four-and-a-half rounds, Silva turned the tables on Sonnen and submitted the title challenger via Armbar at 3:10 in the final round. The bout was voted “Fight of the Year” in the 2010 World MMA Awards.
Sonnen’s post-fight drug screening revealed questionably elevated testosterone levels, prompting a $2,500 fine from the CSAC and a license suspension until September 2, 2011 – and a tarnished reputation to boot.
Allegedly the middleweight is afflicted by hypogonadism, a condition where the sex glands produce little to no hormones, thus requiring forms of hormone therapy. Sonnen supposedly informed the CSAC in advance of his condition and treatment, but says he provided the information to a doctor who he mistakenly believed worked for the California State Athletic Commission.
Today’s plea to the CSAC resulted in its members voting 3-1 for the fighter’s suspension to be cut in half, from one year to six months. He is still required to pay the initial $2,500 fine. With Sonnen’s suspension taking effect in early September, he will once again be allowed to fight in California in March 2011.